Dispelling the Myth of "English Only": Understanding the Importance of the First Language in Second Language Learning
Contrary to the myth that “English only” is the one and only path to successful English acquisition, research on language learning shows that it is beneficial for a student to continue using their first language.
This brief, written by Elsa Billings and best-selling author Aída Walqui, both of WestEd’s Quality Teaching for English Learners, offers background on the importance of fostering continued use of the first language while simultaneously learning a second language.
The brief also provides instructional strategies that will help students strategically use their first language to access texts and participate in activities while they are simultaneously learning English. In so doing, teachers can build into their lessons powerful opportunities for students to simultaneously develop conceptual knowledge and skills in a discipline while they are expanding sophisticated understandings of both their first language and English.
Download other briefs in this series produced by the New York State Education Department:
- Quality Education for ELLs/MLLs: Why We Need It and How We Can Achieve It
- Quality Student Interactions: Why Are They Crucial to Language Learning and How Can We Support Them?
- De-Mystifying Complex Texts: What are “Complex” Texts and How Can We Ensure ELLs/MLLs Can Access Them?
- The Zone of Proximal Development: An Affirmative Perspective in Teaching ELLs/MLLs
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